In honor of May being Chip Your Pet Month, Michelson Found Animals, an LA based nonprofit dedicated to saving pets, wants to educate pet owners about their microchips. Their new #Bullchip campaign recently launched and is calling out all the myths that surround pet microchips and setting the record straight- including that they are not a GPS.
I had the honor of interviewing the Executive Director of Michelson Found Animals , Aimee Gilbreath. She talked about the foundation, the #Bullchip campaign and how owners get the most out of their pet’s microchip.
What is the Michelson Found Animals Foundation all about?
Michelson Found Animals Foundation is a non-profit supporting pet owners and animal welfare organizations with a mission of Saving Pets, Enriching Lives. Our programs range from traditional philanthropy to social enterprise ventures. We created the first free microchip registry and provide affordable microchips and scanners to shelters and rescue organizations across the country. We provide grants for local spay and neuter programs. We’re in our fourth year of the Saving Pets Challenge, in which we partner with Crowdrise to help rescue groups and shelters raise funds and we award cash prizes to the groups raising the most money. In the Los Angeles area, we operate two Adopt & Shop stores and a kitten foster program, which adopt out over 3,000 shelter pets every year.
Through the levers of sterilization, microchipping and adoption, we’re working to reduce shelter intake and euthanasia, and ensure pets have healthy, happy lives.
And all of this is possible thanks to generous funding from Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.
How did the #Bullchip campaign come about?
We were working on the redesign of our microchip registry site, found.org, which includes new features that make it easier to manage a pet’s information and facilitate returning lost pets to their homes. We knew that we wanted to promote the new site and decided to survey pet owners about microchips. We learned that a majority of them are confused or misinformed about what is a complicated subject. For example, 57% don’t know how a microchip works. 1 in 3 don’t know where their chip is registered or if their info is up to date. So we engaged our agency to help us develop an awareness campaign that would address all those misconceptions and set the record straight, in other words, call #Bullchip on the myths.
How are you hoping to make a difference with the campaign?
We hope to educate the general public, and correct the myths and misconceptions that surround pet microchips, to help ensure that lost pets can be reunited with their owners.
For example, contrary to what many consumers think, a pet’s microchip doesn’t track a pet like a GPS device, and doesn’t even store pet owner’s contact info.
Microchips are the only permanent form of identification for pets when they’re used properly, but it’s not enough to get a pet microchipped; owners also have to register the chip. Many pet owners don’t realize that a chip only contains a unique number – like a pet’s social security number. When scanned by a shelter, veterinarian, or animal control, that microchip number is used to look up a pet owner’s contact info in a registry so they can attempt to get the pets home where they belong.
Another reason that pet owners don’t register their pets is the cost. But our registry, found.org, is FREE to register, FREE to use and FREE to update.
(Click here to find a micro-chip clinic near you)
What can people do to help the cause of uniting pets with their owners?
Of course we recommend that all pets wear collars and ID tags as a first line of defense. But collars and tags can get lost. Because microchips are the only form of permanent ID, it’s essential that pet owners microchip and register their microchip. Registration is key. The chip can be scanned but without the registration, there will be no information associated with that chip number. And its important to make sure that they keep their contact information updated in the event that they travel, move or change phone numbers. If the contact information is not current, then if Fido gets lost and scanned, the shelter could be contacting a number that is no longer in service while he sits in a shelter.
(Cats can be microchipped too!)